Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.
The train-zombie flick Train to Busan is acclaimed for good reason. While this is a sub-genre of horror that we’ve seen many times, this film is able to hit the high-octane thrills of any of its predecessors, while still maintaining style and inventiveness within zombie lore.
Yeon Sang-ho directs and writes this horror that amps up the energy with zombies of terrifying quickness, but also the closed precipice of a train, where hiding isn’t truly an option.
Businessman and father Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) is escorting his daughter Soo-an (Kim Su-an) to her mother who he recently separated from. Things start fast, and not long after they board the train do they realize something is amiss. Also on the train are soon-to-be father Sang Hwa (Ma Dong-seok) and his pregnant wife Sung-kyung (Jung Yu-mi). Nobody is expecting what is to come, and with the fight for survival also comes a show of one’s personality and selfless (and selfish) nature.
As attacks start mounting on the train, and reports start coming in outside that things are becoming worse. Many of the passengers are out for their own good, and others will soon become unexpected allies. Even with moments of brief security, as misguided as they may be, the tension continues in ample amounts. The zombies here don’t do well with darkness, so that means that tunnels are an apt time for survivors to inch by. But where can they really go? There are some gnarly moments and delightfully gory effects that make this train as terrifying as possible.
The performances are terrific, and there’s an emotional connection quickly to all of the leads. At first, Yoo Gong seems like a father who neglects his daughter, but soon becomes not only her guardian but someone you truly root for. Kim Su-an gives an empathetic and vulnerable performance beyond her years. The real showstopper is Ma Dong-seok who steals every scene he is in.
Yeon Sang-ho concocts something here that is uniquely gripping and emotional. By its finale, Train to Busan becomes an entry into the zombie entourage that is compelling and full of nonstop action sure to bring your blood pressure up.
It’s the real reanimated deal. Don’t rest, keep one eye open and steadfast on those around you. Train to Busan is a rush of -zombies seeking- blood to the head.
Train to Busan is currently streaming on AMC+